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If Resumes Could Talk: What You’re Missing in Candidates

November 9, 2023

Bhargav Brahmbhatt

Head of Marketing

“Please don’t overlook my experience leading a softball team—it shows leadership qualities, even if it’s not strictly work-related.”
- Wishlist item #1 a resume wishes it could tell you

“I applied for a role in marketing, but most of my background is in sales. I know it’s a career shift, but I’m putting in the work to succeed.”
- Wishlist item #2 a resume wishes it could tell you

“I know my hard skills aren’t fully there yet, but I’m taking courses on the weekend and I’m perfectly culturally-aligned!”
- Wishlist item #3 a resume wishes it could tell you

If resumes could talk, they’d tell us so many things we, as hiring teams, miss. In the whole six seconds we spend skimming through a resume before making a decision, we miss a ton of stuff. It’s no one’s fault. We’re pressed for time, we make quick gut calls, and we pass over the diamond in the rough. 

Plus, there’s only so much a two-page piece of paper can tell us about a person. We can get a rough idea of qualifications, but let’s face it: resumes will never be as revealing as a good ol’ conversation. 

The many, many flaws of resumes

When we receive a job application, we get a one, maybe two page resume. That’s not a lot to go off of: 

  • We get a very basic, vague understanding of someone’s past job titles and duties—not where they want to be. What if they’ve been stuck in the manager track but they really want to be an IC again? We wouldn’t learn that from a resume.
  • We don’t get a feel for their soft skills or personality. Resumes are very to-the-point: their goal is to convey as much information as possible into a couple pages, not tell us about a person’s collaboration abilities, communication style, problems-solving skills, reliability, passion, what motivates them, how coachable they are…resumes are so limited in what they actually provide: hard skills and experience. Nothing about who a person is.
  • If a candidate has decades of experience and limited space, they might include their most recent or most relevant roles in the resume—which can lead to tons of missed context and hard skills the candidate may have incorrectly felt weren’t relevant
  • We can’t assess cultural alignment based on a document. How do we know if a candidate aligns to the qualities we value in an employee based on numbers and keywords?
  • We’re vulnerable to embellishments and exaggerations (let’s be honest here—who hasn’t made their qualifications or past roles sound a bit more important than they really were?).
  • Barring a crystal ball, we can’t predict on-the-job performance from just a resume. Some of the best candidates on paper often fall apart during the interview process, or fail to live up to those same expectations on the job. Is a stellar engineer going to find success at every other tech firm, or are there intangibles that drove their success?
  • There’s always the issue of bias. A survey, released earlier in 2023, found that 19% of respondents changed their name on their resume to avoid discrimination. That’s shocking beyond measure, and we clearly still have work to do there. And let’s not forget that having a Harvard degree will open doors for you just like that, but it doesn’t mean it’s a good fit.
  • With the advent of ChatGPT and other generative AI helpfully writing resumes for folks, we’re bound to run into eerily-similar resumes. What do we do then?

If we depend on resumes too much, what do we miss out on? 

We’ve established that a resume doesn’t define a whole person—that by relying on a document, we don’t get a full picture on soft skills, personality, performance, and retention. What happens from there? 

Interviews. Lots and lots of interviews.

In the last few years, we’ve seen interview loops increase dramatically:

  1. Screening call with someone on the talent acquisition team
  2. Interview with the hiring manager
  3. Code test, if in a tech role
  4. Interview with the supervisor
  5. Sometimes a panel interview with folks from the team (or adjacent teams)
  6. Cultural alignment interview
  7. Presentation, if in a marketing/sales role
  8. Reference checks (you know, to verify candidates actually did the things they put on their resume)
  9. Interview with a C-suite (at smaller companies)

This is a fairly standard loop, which is massively time-consuming for both candidates (not a great candidate experience, either!) and talent acquisition. Worse yet, this loop still doesn’t guarantee that we’ll select the best hire. We’re still subject to our biases, and sometimes, we get caught up on first impressions. If Candidate #1’s hard skills caught our eye, we might give them more of a ‘bump’ than Candidate #2, who is perhaps a better overall fit. And so, we miss the mark. How can we escape this trap?

It’s simple: involve a bias-free partner that looks more deeply into candidates

We recently announced the launch of TRACY, the Talent Recommendation Agent Customized to You. The TL;DR of TRACY is that she’s an unbiased partner that works with your talent acquisition team to provide a deeper dive into candidates. She provides thorough reports on candidates that look at soft skills, key attributes, strengths, areas of improvement, along with a “score” that predicts how candidates will perform on the job. 

Think of TRACY as the superpower recruiters need. Imagine being able to filter from 100 or 1,000 applicants down to the top 20 worth a next step. And going from that 20 down to a top five that are most likely to succeed and should be interviewed. And once you hire someone, validate the quality of the hire, and have the AI reapply those learnings to the top of the funnel, so each successive hire gets better. We’ve stated before that research shows we get it wrong most of the time—but TRACY predicts top performers four times more accurately than we can, while making the hiring process simpler. 

Combining AI’s capabilities with talent acquisition experts forms the ideal partnership: our humans can do what they do best (focusing on the human element), while AI can answer the questions that resumes can’t—all while making that giant hiring process less onerous and more efficient and effective. 

With the right partner, hiring can be easy

Our talent acquisition teams simply can’t cope with the hundreds of resumes that come in for every role posted. Without the time to properly dedicate to reading resumes and overloading our folks with interviews, we’re failing both candidates and our talent acquisition teams who feel powerless to fix these issues. Bogged down with administrative work and hiring quotas, hiring can often become more about getting people in the door rather than getting the right people in the door

It’s time to evolve our hiring practices by empowering our humans with the data AI can provide. With talent partners like TRACY, hiring teams can spend less time skimming through resumes and interviewing the wrong candidates. Instead, they can focus on candidates they know will be top performers, based on concrete data and context that would otherwise be lost.

Partner with TRACY today. Your talent acquisition team will thank you. 

Bhargav Brahmbhatt

Head of Marketing

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